1. It Has Been Claimed That Social Welfare Is Not About Promoting The Recipients’ Wellbeing But About Promoting Their Compliance With Particular Standards Of Behaviour. Critically Discuss This Claim With Reference To

1731 words - 7 pages

Some have argued that social welfare should be about promoting recipient wellbeing. However, others have argued that in recent times welfare programs are more about controlling the behaviour of welfare recipients. This essay will examine the history of welfare programs to women since the initiation of the post-war welfare state under Labour Prime Minister Chifley to ascertain whether recent development in these programs are more about providing for recipient’s wellbeing or rather about trying to make them comply with certain standards of accepted behaviour.

Chifley argued that it was the “duty and responsibility of the community, and particularly those more fortunately placed, to see that ...view middle of the document...

The argument did not merely consider welfare to the individual’s wellbeing but rather their compliance and response to the welfare system when they were dependent on it and became more dependent as time went by. Framing a need for major change to the Australian welfare system, government representatives maintained that policy had to address entrenched problems with welfare recipients and the welfare system. The problem with welfare recipients was commonly expressed in terms of ‘welfare dependence’ and the problem with the welfare system was expressed in terms of a need to reframe the relationship between welfare claimants and the welfare state through ‘Mutual Obligation’ (Howard & Yeatman 2006).

It was argued that as a result of this dependence, “parents, both partnered and single, who remain out of the work force and on income support for long periods of time often faced great difficulty in returning to the work force later on when their children were older. This was due to their lack of recent experience, skills, contacts and/or confidence. This syndrome created a significant risk of poverty and long-term welfare dependency for both themselves and their children” (Anthony 2002). There was also an implication that long term recipients were, or grew, unwilling to work and felt entitled to remain on benefits.

During the Howard government of the mid 1990s, Minister for Family and Community Services, Jocelyn Newman, established the Reference Group on Welfare Reform. Newman described her concern with the state of affairs as follows: there are examples around Australia where job opportunities are available and our entrenched culture of welfare dependency has meant that certain members of our community are not only prepared, but feel entitled to exploit the social safety net instead (Newman 1999). At the time, parenting payment, which is a social security payment paid by the Australian Government, was payable to either sole or partnered parents, provided they were the primary care giver of a child aged between zero and 15 years. Only those with zero or low household income were eligible. In 2002, 427,846 people claimed Parenting Payment Single and 191, 576 claimed Parenting Payment Partnered (FACSIA 2006).

Early in the government’s program of reform the solution to welfare dependence was seen in the concept of ‘mutual obligation’. Prime Minister Howard explained Mutual Obligation: ‘We have a solemn obligation to help those in our community who are deserving of help. Equally we have a right, as a responsible community, to ask of those who are receiving help, where it is reasonable to do so, that they do something in return for that assistance and something that is commensurate with the help and their own circumstances. And that is the principle of mutual obligation’ (Howard 1997). The parenting payment benefit was now payable to the principal carer of the child. Only one parent or guardian could receive the payment. Parents, grandparents or...

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